10 years ago, I met with a home improvement company, putting forth what I felt (and probably still feel because dang it, it was clever AF) was an amazing social media marketing plan. The owner's response: "Only the kids are on social media." WRONG!

Traditionally, business owners have thought about digital marketing in terms of SEO, PPC (pay-per-click), and email marketing. But sometimes, social media gets lost in the mix. Alternately, some business owners think infrequently posting a pretty photo is enough. I'm here to tell you: It's not.

Social Media's Important Role in Ecommerce Marketing.

Pick your Poison...Platform.

Here I am with part of the Original Skateboards crew at Google I/O. Google invited us to be part of their Sandbox alongside 4 other brands spotlighting us for utilizing the YouTube API in development.

Social media isn't a magic potion. And as it currently stands, neither you nor I have a magic wand (although, wouldn't that be nice?). Many people either hem and haw over what social media platform works best for their business, or they have their heart set on their favorite platform for personal use without understanding where their demographic actually lives online organically. In many instances, the business owners themselves may not even be the target demographic in which case personal use of a platform has little relevance.

Another photo from Google I/O with Scott Imbrie (co-founder of Original Skateboards and my partner in crime/life) alongside Chad Hurley, one of the founders of YouTube, and some of the YouTube dev team at our Sandbox display.

Luckily for both of us, there is data! It's your magic wand, so use it! Here's how: Inside of your Google Analytics, you can see where your best traffic is coming from by looking at several pieces: time-on-page, pages-per-sessions, and conversions (assuming you have Ecommerce tracking setup). That data is a great place to start. If you're still leaning towards following your gut instinct, don't be afraid to A/B test to see what platform brings in better traffic. Ideally, you want a mixed platform strategy anyway.

Share Your Brand Story.

Let's get visual, visual. Storytelling is essential to marketing. Crafting an authentic brand story will take your brand to the next level, and social media is the spaceship to take you into lift off. It's as simple as that. One of the amazing qualities social media has to offer is the ability to craft a visual brand story. I've said it once, and I'll say it again, invest in your visual assets to make that rocket fly to infinity and beyond.

Foster an Online Community.

Once upon a time, people walked up and down the streets and into new storefronts after seeing advertisements in the local newspaper or simply from the look of your store window. That's not to say that this no longer happens. Heck, I live in a small town, so this is definitely still the case, sometimes. There are still places where (cue music) everybody knows your name.

But brands like Marc Jacobs continue to prove the power of fostering online communities near and far. Using user generated content, Marc Jacobs leveraged its community by asking users to upload a photo using the hashtag #castmemarc. In return, users got the opportunity to become a Marc Jacobs model. 24 hours after launch, users posted over 12k times. Can you think of an instance in which 12k people will walk past your door? Likely, no. Times, they are a changing.

While you might not be Marc Jacobs status just yet, you can use your comments section as a way to engage with your customers, gain insights into what people like/dislike, and just generally hang out. The more you interact, the more you build a relationship with long-term loyal customers who feel that your brand is something they know and trust. After all, these are your online neighbors. They should know your name.

Embrace the Power of Paid Advertising (Increase Exposure).

More and more, paid reach is taking brands further by sharing content with a larger, targeted audience and allowing business owners to track the return on their advertising. But being on social media isn't enough. You want to build a digital presence that is as strong as your product. Create a custom audience on different platforms to expand your network and get your product/brand in front of more and more eyes. In this case, the more, the merrier!

Set Your Goals.

Social media has the ability to bring out everyone's inner high school self. Maybe it's just me, but my gawky, brace-faced 16 year old self would have wanted all the likes. Let go of that temptation. Tell your high school self to chill!

While having a lot of online appreciation is nice, if your goal is to increase your organic search by more than 10% year over year or increase your sales year over year, then the total amount of likes and comments isn't really accomplishing your goals. Keep in mind that different demographics behave differently online. Set your goals and stick to them!

While it is possible to do all of this yourself, putting together a strategy or hiring a digital marketing consultant is the best way to put your best digital foot forward. I'm here to help!

Hungry for more? Ready to put your own social media to use? Let's do work: gnickas@gmail.com